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Tofu and Tomato Panzanella

A block of tofu goes a long way for one person so I had plans to use a third of it in a tofu scramble for breakfast, a third of it in a saag paneer inspired saag tofu dinner the following day, and roasting the rest in the oven, cut into bite-sized pieces and then marinated in vinaigrette as a snack. The inspiration recipe below popped into my inbox this morning and, since it sounded delicious and I had all of the ingredients, the snack portion of the tofu was sacrificed to make this instead.

I do not regret it. I changed the recipe a bit and turned it into a slightly more substantial salad by making it a panzanella rather than a plain tomato salad. If I say so myself, this was inspired because the toasted pita soaked up all the dressing with some pieces going soggy and delicious and the others remaining crispy and adding texture to the whole, but some crusty bread would work well if you don't want to go that route.

Between the ginger, hot pepper and cilantro (in my case Vietnamese coriander), this is a piquant dish so taste as you assemble to avoid burning lips and teary eyes (in a good way) as you eat!

1/3 block of firm tofu

1 medium sized tomato or, as above, half an heirloom tomato and an assortment of halved mini tomatoes

1 pita, preferably whole grain

1/3 cup mint, basil, coriander (in the quantities that you prefer -- I did a third of each), torn into rough pieces

1 Tbsp chopped red onion

1 tsp hot pepper (I used part of a ripened red Jalapeno)

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger root

1/2 tsp maple syrup

Juice from one lemon

1 Tbsp olive oil

Flaky salt such as Maldon salt or any finishing salt

Place the tofu between several layers of paper towels and weigh it down with something heavy for 5 minutes.

Place the pita in the oven and turn the oven to 400 to preheat.

While the oven is preheating, make your dressing by combining the grated ginger with the cumin, lemon juice, maple syrup and two teaspoons of the olive oil. Set aside.

Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces and place on a parchment lined baking tray. Brush each cube with a bit of a teaspoon's worth of oil. Gently sprinkle with the flaky salt.

As soon as your oven is preheated, remove the pita from the oven and put the tofu in to bake. Leave it for ten minutes while you prepare your salad.

Break the pita into shards of varying sizes and line the bottom of your salad dish with them. Top this with sliced tomatoes. Tear up your herbs, chop your hot pepper and your onions. Set them aside.

When the ten minutes allocated to the tofu are up, flip the tofu pieces over and let them bake for an additional five minutes.

Place the hot tofu pieces, straight from the oven, on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the herbs, chopped onion and hot pepper pieces, and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle the top with a little flaky salt.

Enjoy the combination of hot and cold, sweet and spicy, crunchy and smooth...An excellent lunch.

This is a twenty two minute and two second to the table dish, much of which is unattended kitchen time while the tofu bakes.


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